Herbes de Provence

Chris Mulder, Barn Owl Nursery

 

In France, the composition of this special herb blend varies from household to
household. It may contain as few as five or as many as eleven different herbs. Thyme
is always present, and usually rosemary, savory, fennel seeds and marjoram are found
in these blends. Sometimes sage, basil, mint, oregano and powdered bay leaf are
added.

Occasionally, lavender flower buds are added. Usually, culinary English lavender flower
buds are used. I have tried different varieties with different combinations of herbs to
see which lavender flowers I like the best with certain foods. English lavender flower
buds lend a clean flavor to the savory character of herbes de Provence. Each herb in
the blend contributes just the right amount of sweetness, (rosemary, marjoram,
lavender, basil and mint) or a spicy pungency, (thyme, savory, fennel seeds, sage,
oregano and bay leaf,) or both.

By carefully mixing different herb combinations and experimenting with different
proportions, you can create a blend that you will like. To make a culinary herb blend
that is similar to a herbes de Provence blend, try one or more of the recipes and modify
them to suit your own taste.

Combine all freshly dried herbs in a glass or stainless steel bowl, mix well. Store the
blend in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, in a dark, cool place. Use about half a
teaspoon for four servings. If you want a stronger flavor, increase the amount to your
taste. If stored properly, the mixtures will keep for a long time, but it is best to use them
within one year. Remember to write down the exact amount of each herb you use.
Start with a small amount mixed in cottage cheese, cream cheese or butter. Place the
herb cheese or butter in a small, covered glass or ceramic dish in the refrigerator. Let it
sit for a few hours or overnight, before tasting. Spread the herb cheese or butter onto
plain crackers or bread to taste. Decide if you want to add more or less of one
particular herb, or take out or substitute another herb, until you find a blend that suits
you.

Begin experimenting by adding a small amount, (a half a teaspoon for four servings) of
your herb blend to a wide range of foods. If you like it, try increasing the amount just to
accent or compliment, but not over power, the flavor of the food. Try your blend on
vegetables, in soups, stews, sauces, and in dressings and especially with beans,
cheese, eggs, poultry and tomato dishes.

3 parts French thyme and sweet marjoram leaves
1 part each of any or all of these herbs:

English lavender flower buds
summer or winter savory leaves
fennel seeds, crushed
sweet basil leaves
spearmint leaves
Greek oregano leaves

 

  • 2 ½ T French thyme leaves
  • 2 T sweet basil leaves
  • 2 T summer or winter savory leaves
  • 1 T English lavender flower buds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed

 

  • 3 T English lavender flower buds
  • 3 T sweet marjoram or Greek oregano leaves
  • 3 T French thyme leaves
  • 3 T summer or winter savory leaves
  • 1 tsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp sweet basil leaves
  • ½ tsp garden sage leaves

 

  • 1 T French thyme leaves
  • 1 T sweet basil leaves
  • 2 tsp English lavender flower buds
  • 2 tsp rosemary leaves
  • ½ tsp summer or winter savory leaves
  • ½ tsp sweet marjoram leaves

 

  • 3 T French thyme leaves
  • 3 T sweet basil leaves
  • 3 T sweet marjoram leaves
  • 2 T summer or winter savory leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp rosemary leaves
  • ½ tsp English lavender flower buds
  • ½ tsp garden sage leaves
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed